To achieve justice, many individuals over time have needed to challenge the existing, restrictive views of society, views which have been embedded in the culture and views many are unhappy to let go of. The novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and documentary The Scottsboro Trials - An American Tragedy directed by Barak Goodman and Daniel Anker both feature themes of Social Justice, overcoming prejudice and personal and moral courage.
The concept of justice involves fair, just and equal treatment. These facets are found in a person’s personal, moral courage and integrity however fairness and equality can often be limited by prejudice and discrimination. This means that those who fall victim to injustice are not subjects because of their own actions but are rather victims of a system, society or collective action. The historical and social context in which Lee’s Novel was written must be considered to understand fully the challenges that faced each of the characters in achieving justice. Through developing a back-story and ongoing characterisation the audience understands that the town of Maycomb in which this story is set has the same, southern sentiments of racism consistent with 1930’s Alabama. Historically the story is also set during the great depression with people having ‘nothing to buy and no money to buy it with’, we also learn about the small town traditions and that keeping to oneself was ‘a predilection unforgiveable in Maycomb’. This all adds to the restrictive views of society in which the protagonists of To Kill a Mockingbird must challenge to achieve justice.
Overt Racism, as mentioned above, was one of the challenges faced by Atticus Finch to achieve justice in his defence of Tom Robinson. The ongoing motif of the mockingbird is personified in Tom Robinson, being a symbol for innocence and reiterating the belief that ‘it is a sin to kill a mockingbird’
Links: to the Communist party were also made and his differing values made him a target for hateful slurs, death threats and abuse due to the lies of Price and Baits strengthened by the use of voiceovers and narration throughout the documentary. Justice was achieved for 7 of the 8 accused of rape at Scottsboro however it took many years and the damage done was irreparable due to the challenge of the existing views they faced held by society. What each individual mentioned above from To Kill a Mockingbird and Scottsboro: An American Tragedy has in common is a distinct lack of justice. Through fear, ignorance, prejudice, racism and blatant lies they fell victim to the destruction of the existing views of the society they lived in, the society that caged them and the society that suffocated them.